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BTO Blueline

Cuculus canorus

Cuckoo © Tommy Holden

• Population

• Productivity

• Additional

Conservation listings
Europe: no SPEC category (favourable conservation status in Europe, not concentrated in Europe)
UK: red
UK Biodiversity Action Plan: priority species
Long-term trend
UK, England: rapid decline
UK population size
9,600–20,000 pairs in 2000 (1988–91 Atlas estimate updated using CBC/BBS trend: BiE04, APEP06)
Status summary
The CBC/BBS trend shows Cuckoo abundance to have been in decline since the early 1980s. The species was moved in 2002 from the green to the amber list, and in the latest review met red-list criteria. The sensitivity of CBC to change in this species may have been relatively low, mainly because Cuckoo territories were typically larger than census plots (Marchant et al. 1990). BBS shows a continuing strong decline in England and Wales, but not in Scotland. Cuckoo numbers may have fallen because the populations of some key host species, such as Dunnock and Meadow Pipit, have declined (Brooke & Davies 1987). Decreases among certain British moths may have reduced food supplies for returning adults, and the species may also be suffering difficulties on migration or in winter (Glue 2006). Strong variation in Cuckoo population trends between habitats may reflect regional differences in the main hosts and differing trends in Cuckoo breeding success among those host species: Cuckoos increased significantly during 1994–2006 in lowland semi-natural grass, heath and bog but decreased in almost all other habitat types (Newson et al. 2009). Due to climate-induced earlier breeding in recent decades, Dunnock nests have become less available to Cuckoos and those of Reed Warblers more so: this may explain a concurrent increase in the rate of parasitism of Reed Warbler nests (Douglas et al. 2010).
CBC/BBS UK graph

1967-2008: -58% (confidence interval -69% to -43%)

Population changes in detail
Demographic trends
Additional information

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This report should be cited as: Baillie, S.R., Marchant, J.H., Leech, D.I., Renwick, A.R., Joys, A.C., Noble, D.G., Barimore, C., Conway, G.J., Downie, I.S., Risely, K. & Robinson, R.A. (2010). Breeding Birds in the Wider Countryside: their conservation status 2010. BTO Research Report No. 565. BTO, Thetford. (http://www.bto.org/birdtrends)

Pages maintained by Iain Downie, Mandy T Andrews and Laura Smith: Last updated 15.10.2010